Bouhanni Wins Stage 1 of Criterium International
Victorious in the first stage of Paris-Nice a few weeks ago, Nacer Bouhanni once again showed the other riders who's boss when he sprinted to victory in the 89 kilometer stage 1 of this year's Critérium International near the city of Porto Vecchio. Team Garmin-Sharp-POC's Nathan Haas finished second and Tinkoff-Saxo's Marko Kump third.
Team FDJ.fr's sprinter ace certainly appears to have recovered fully from the knee injury which kept his off his bike since he abandonned Paris-Nice during stage 5. He will wear the yellow leader's jersey in stage 2 later today.
The sun was shining and the wind dominant on the Island of Corsica and the city of Porto Vecchio when the riders took off for the start of stage 1 of the 83rd edition of the famous Critérium International. At 09:31 in the morning 113 riders set out to conquer the 89 kilometer course around Porto Vecchio.
The hostilities started early as four riders attacked in the first kilometer. The breakaway group featured French riders Gougeard (ALM), Venturini (COF), Vaubourzeix (LPM) and Vimpère (BIG) and built a two minute lead on the followers before the main peloton, led by Team Trek Factory Racing and FDJ.fr, started reeling them in to set the stage for their sprinters.
When the escapees reached the summit of the only climb of the stage, the Côte de Conca at kilometer 46.5, they were only 35 seconds ahead of the peloton. Vimpère collected the most climber points and was followed by Gougeard and Vaubourzeix.
The four breakaway hopefuls were caught at kilometer 48 and Team AG2R La Mondiale - Focus Bikes then took command of the race and set a fast pace which caused the peloton to split into two groups. Caught in an unfortunate position as usual in windy and fast conditions, Trek Factory Racing's Andy Schleck was part of the group of fifty riders which got left behind. The desperately chasing group also featured Astana's Janez Brajkovic. Fortunately for both general classification hopefuls, the groups merged twenty kilometers before the finish line.
The only intermediate sprint of the day (at kilometer 73.5) was won by Team IAM Cycling's Brandle ahead of Trek Factory Racing's Jungels and BigMat-Auber 93's Rossetto.
With fifteen kilometers to go, Astana's Vanotti went on a solo attack and had built a small ten second lead with ten kilometers to go. Vanotti was eventually caught with two kilometers to go. The stage was now set for a sprinter match and forcefully helped by his sprint train, Bouhanni was catapulted to stage victory and podium fame ahead of Garmin-Sharp-POC's Nathan Haas and Marko Kump of Team Tinkoff Bank - Saxo Bank. The Frenchman will, therefore, wear the overall leader’s yellow jersey in this afternoon's individual time trial. Bouhanni also leads the points and best young rider competitions while Vimpère was congratulated for being the best climber so far.